Today marks the first day of June 2011 and the rivers and riparian zones in the Mulkear catchment are buzzing with life. After a very wet, windy and rather cold May, the Mulkear catchment is brimming with colour, with flowers and grasses, birds, fish and invertebrates. The MulkearLIFE project has captured some images to give you an idea of the richness of flora biodiversity both within the rivers and the riparian zones in the catchment.
Within the catchment there exists a limited number of riparian woodlands. There are amongst the rarest native woodland type found in Ireland. The extent of riparian woodlands has been greatly undermined by development, land clearance and drainage activities.
Late evening light on the Mulkear and mature riparian woodlands (Ruairí Ó Conchúir)
The remaining areas support amazingly rich biodiversity and have very considerable environmental benefits. Not only do they support and regenerate a rare form of native woodland, more importantly they play a key role in several of the key project actions of MulkearLIFE. They help protect and enhancing water quality and aquatic ecosystem. They act as eco-system service providers in the true sense of the term. The main Mulkear River, its principal tributaries, the Bilboa, Newport and Dead, and smaller rivers and streams have been described as acting like corridors or ‘stepping stones’ in the landscape. Their positive effects extend far beyond the river itself.
Bluebells and invertebrates in shaded riparian woodlands (Image – Ruairí Ó Conchúir)
Acquatic plant species are also flowering in rivers including River Water Crowfoot a subaquatic perennial herb found in rivers and streams. There are a number of aquatic Ranunculus species commonly found in rivers.
River Water Crowfoot – Bilboa River (Image – Ruairí Ó Conchúir)
This plant is a member of the buttercup family with long flowing leafy stems of up to 6m and exhibits white flowers (2-3cm across) from May/June to August. The leaves are submerged, narrow and streamlined affording lower resistance to fast flowing water.
Close-up of River Water Crowfoot – Bilboa River (Image – Ruairí Ó Conchúir)
Many invertebrates and fish use River Water Crowfoot as a sanctuary and as a source of food. It therefore plays a key role in the foodweb providing a valuable habitat for freshwater invertebrates such as shrimps, snails, insect larvae and nymphs.
Female Beautiful Demoiselle Dragonfly (Image – Ruairí Ó Conchúir)